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What to Wear for Pageant Headshots

The formal definition of a headshot is, “A photograph of someone’s face, especially a promotional photograph of a model, actor, or author.”

Pageant headshots are very important. In many systems, this is the very first impression that the judge has of the contestant. It needs to be professional, yet realistic. A complete glam shot would not be appropriate, but neither would a completely natural shot. You want to give the judge an accurate representation of yourself. Now back to the definition. I think it is all about interpretation. Very few people look attractive with the camera right up in their face. Therefore, the range for a headshot should be anywhere from slightly above the waist (abdomen) to just beneath the shoulders (chest). Let’s examine some pageant headshots that really worked, and some that did not from the Miss Teen USA 2013 competition.

If you’re looking for more examples of great headshots visit, “Best Pageant Headshots in 2013“.

Headshot Gallery

Notice that most of the positive pictures followed the guidelines above. My personal favorite, Miss Hawaii Teen USA, wore a gorgeous red leather top with a deep v-neckline which captured much attention (remember-red is a power color, you can’t really go wrong with it). Her hair was also an attention getter, which then drew the eye to her rich, milky skin tone. Her eyes were warm and inviting.

Hawaii,headshot,pageant,teen usa
Miss Hawaii Teen USA

Miss Illinois Teen USA, wow, can you say cute? This is such an endearing picture. I think this type of pageant headshot sends a great message to a judge. Although it is a little closer than we mentioned, it works for her! This photo makes me look forward to meeting this seemingly spunky and interesting girl.

Miss Illinois Teen USA,headshot,pageant
Miss Illinois

Last but not least, Miss North Dakota Teen USA. Wow, this is a stunning picture! I am kind of obsessed with red hair, and boy did she use it to her advantage in this photograph. The angle of her body is mysterious. The hair is the focal point, but it does not completely distract from her face, which is what we want to see.

Miss North Dakota Teen USA,pageant,headshot,
Miss North Dakota Teen USA

The pictures that “didn’t work” were quite obvious and easy to pick out. In a pageant system as prestigious as this one, your headshot must be dynamite. This facet of the competition is worth spending a little extra on. Take Miss Montana’s picture for example. She is clearly a beautiful girl and was a great candidate, but the photo looks very amateur. The lighting is also not playing to her features, it is actually working against her. It gives the illusion that she is “shiny.”

Miss Montana Teen USA

Miss Washington was in a similar boat. She is gorgeous, but the starch white backdrop did nothing for her. The yellow color of her outfit looks fabulous with her darker skin tones, but the white in the background neutralized it in a negative way.

Miss Washington Teen USA

Miss Kentucky was, yet again, a beautiful contestant, but the blue ensemble she wore was very overpowering in my opinion. Also, the position of her face was not flattering. She had sharp features which she could have better flaunted by looking straight on at the camera.  

Miss Kentucky Teen USA
Miss Kentucky Teen USA

You see, this is a very important part of the competition. Wearing appropriate clothing, modern looks, and flattering pieces are essential. Use these examples and identify with one of them. Just like you determine your platform, determine your style and run with it. Let it be consistent. And always remember pageant girl, “Keep your heels, head, and standards, HIGH!”

Which dress do you like better?

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